Fresno Takes It All

September 23, 2015

The Fresno Grizzlies won the Triple-A National Championship Game on Tuesday night in El Paso, shutting out International League champion Columbus, 7-0.

Fresno starter Chris Devenski tossed seven scoreless innings – and he didn’t allow a baserunner until the sixth inning. He struck out nine while allowing only one hit.

Meanwhile, Fresno scored three runs in the first inning and kept piling on early to coast to the win.

And with that, minor league baseball is done for 2015. Congratulations to Fresno for winning the whole ball of wax all of the marbles just plain everything.

Hall of Famer Yogi Berra passed away late last night, at age 90. So much has been made of his famous quotes that people forget how good he was. He won three American League MVP awards – receiving at least one MVP vote every year from 1947 to 1961 – and was an 18-time All-Star. Before becoming a Yankees star, Berra was in the D-Day invasion in World War II.

I read a great biography of Berra last offseason: “Yogi Berra: Eternal Yankee” by Allen Barra. If you enjoy biographies of interesting Americans, check it out.


There are going to be a lot of really good remembrances of Yogi Berra written by elite-level baseball scribes in the next few days. I’ll link to some that come across my desk, starting with these today:

With the minor league season coming to an end, we’ll continue updating the blog but on a more regimented schedule. Look for new posts on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays through the end of the World Series.

Triple-A National Championship Game Tonight

September 22, 2015

The final game of the Minor League Baseball season is tonight, when PCL champion Fresno faces International League winner Columbus in the Triple-A National Championship Game.

The game is played at rotating sites, and this year the El Paso Chihuahuas are hosting the event.

NBC Sports Network is televising the game nationally. It starts at 5:00 (Pacific).

This is an opportunity for you to check out the beautiful new downtown ballpark in El Paso – it really is a unique stadium. Let’s face the facts: you’re probably never going to visit El Paso, so this is your best chance to see what their cool ballpark looks like.

Columbus is starting lefty Ryan Merritt, who pitched the opening game of both series in the IL playoffs.

Fresno’s No. 1 starter Dan Straily got called up by the Astros, who are desperately trying to hang on to a playoff spot in the American League wild card chase. So the Grizzlies are going to start RHP Chris Devenski, a prospect of some regard who will be making his first Triple-A start.

There is money on the line: MiLB pays the players extra for this game (player salaries are paid by their major league teams, not MiLB), and the winning team gets more than the losing team. It’s a nice little bonus, especially for the players who haven’t reached the big leagues yet.


Fresno Wins Title

September 21, 2015

The Fresno Grizzlies won the first PCL Championship in franchise history on Sunday afternoon, defeating Round Rock 7-3 to win the best-of-five series, three games to two.

Fresno was down in the series 2-1 but won the final two games: a 2-1 nail biter on Saturday, and then Sunday’s final.

Mark Appel starred for Fresno on Sunday, tying his career high with ten strikeouts over 5.2 innings pitched.

Fresno had a two-run homer from Tyler White, three hits by Tony Kemp, and two hits and two RBI from Robbie Grossman.

Kemp was named MVP of the playoffs, hitting .405 with nine RBI during Fresno’s nine postseason games.

It was the fourth PCL Championship for Fresno manager Tony DeFrancesco, who guided Sacramento to the title in 2003, 2004 and 2007.

There is one game left: the final game of the minor league season is the Triple-A National Championship Game, pitting Fresno against International League champion Columbus. This one-off game plays at rotating sites; this year El Paso is the host. The game is Tuesday night.

Congratulations to the fans in Fresno – they had to wait 18 years to get their first PCL title.

In the big picture, I think Fresno’s win falls under the category of “Good For The PCL.” Fresno lost its affiliation with the SF Giants after the 2014 season – and that was a really natural fit for them, marketing wise. They kind of got stuck with Houston in the affiliation shuffle, and then the Astros provided Fresno with its first-ever championship club – and the fans got into it down the stretch in Fresno. This definitely helped the overall future outlook in Fresno.


  • The Fresno Bee story includes lots of reaction and embedded photos and videos of the celebration. PCL people: don’t miss the photo of Fresno team president Chris Cummings getting a beer shower.
  • Fresno columnist Marek W. was on hand and filed this report.
  • Here’s the PCL Championship recap from
  • The Mariners pounded Texas on Sunday, 9-2, and remain hot right now: the M’s are 12-6 over the last 18 games, and are only four games under .500.
  • After the game, the Mariners had their annual “rookie dress-up day” and Ryan Divish provides us with amusing commentary.
  • Bob Dutton’s Mariners Notebook catches us up on Stefen Romero‘s first-ever start in center field, and the never-ending fun of Felix Hernandez facing Adrian Beltre.

Tomorrow we’ll take a look at the Triple-A National Championship Game.

Game Five Today

September 20, 2015

Fresno edged Round Rock on Saturday night, 2-1, forcing a fifth and final game of the PCL Championship Series today at 1:05.

To follow today’s game, go here.

Round Rock will start Anthony Ranaudo against Fresno’s Mark Appel. That’s a really good pitching matchup by PCL standards and is fitting for a Game Five.

Last night, Fresno starter Asher Wojciechowski walked a tightrope through the first six innings, escaping jam after jam while allowing just one run. Jon Singleton hit the go-ahead home run in the bottom of the sixth.

Whoever wins today will face International League champion Columbus in the Triple-A National Championship Game on Tuesday night in El Paso.


When the series began I picked Fresno in five games – so let’s go Grizzlies!

Youth Leads Round Rock In Game Three

September 17, 2015

Lewis Brinson hit a pair of home runs off Brett Oberholtzer, helping Round Rock to a 6-2 win in game three of the PCL Championship Series on Friday night in Fresno.

Round Rock leads the best-of-five series, two games to one. The Express can win it all tonight at 7:05.

Prior to the playoffs, I briefly wrote that Round Rock has been boosted by youth down the stretch. Brinson and Nomar Mazara are highly regarded hitting prospects whom the Rangers moved up to Triple-A for the last weeks of the regular season, and then the playoffs. Both outfielders have hit over .300 with power during the PCL playoffs.

Brinson, 21, was a Rangers first round draft pick in 2012 out of a high school in Coral Springs, Florida. He began the season at Class-A High Desert and put up big numbers in the first half (just like most hitters at High Desert). The Rangers bumped him up to Double-A midseason, and working around an injury he hit .291 in 28 games before being summoned to Round Rock for the final eight games of the PCL regular season. He hit .332 with 20 home runs in 100 games between the three levels.

Brinson is 5-for-15 with two homers and five RBIs over the first three games of the PCL Championship Series.

Round Rock starter Phil Klein delivered six scoreless innings, and he has pitched 13 shutout frames over two postseason starts.

I’m pulling for Fresno tonight, so we can get to a decisive Game Five tomorrow afternoon. Nothing is more fun than one game for the trophy!


I’ll have another post for you on Sunday morning as we continue to track the PCL finals.

Straily, Fresno Ties Series

September 17, 2015

Fresno starter Dan Straily retired 20 straight batters to open the game, helping Fresno defeat Round Rock on Wednesday night, 3-1.

The best-of-five PCL Championship Series is tied, one game apiece.

Straily’s bid for a perfect game ended with two outs in the seventh inning, when he walked Nomar Mazara. Two batters later, Brett Nicholas broke up the no-hitter.

Fresno took the lead on Jon Singleton‘s two-run homer in the first inning.

The teams are off today, for a travel day. The final two (or three) games will be played in Fresno, starting with Friday night’s game at 7:05.

We’ll continue to follow the series with our next blog update, which will be on Saturday morning.


  • We start with the recap from the Austin Statesman, which has lots of reaction from Straily.
  • The Fresno Bee also has a report, with a notebook at the end – apparently the Fresno team is battling illness.
  • Jesus Montero is still on the Mariners – he actually got a start last night, and hit a three-run homer in a 3-1 win over the Angels. The Mariners won that series and need to go 10-5 over the last 15 games to finish at .500.
  • The game featured a moment of tension between Kyle Seager and Jered Weaver.
  • Bob Dutton’s Mariners Notebook has some fresh news on the GM opening.

That’s it for today – come back Saturday for our next update.

Round Rock Outlasts Fresno In Opener

September 16, 2015

The opening game of the PCL Championship Series was a real cliffhanger.

It lasted 12 innings, there was a big comeback, a dramatic moment in the ninth, and eventually Round Rock won it, 9-8.

Texas Rangers top prospect Lewis Brinson – who already had three hits in the game – drew a bases loaded walk in the bottom of the 12th inning to force home the winning run. Round Rock leads the best-of-five series, 1-0.

Fresno overcame a six run deficit, took an 8-7 lead, and then allowed a game-tying home run in the bottom of the ninth to the Rangers other top prospect, Nomar Mazara.

From the Austin Statesman story:

This 4-hour, 46-minute game between the Rangers’ and Astros’ top farm clubs had a lot of everything: 17 runs … 29 hits … 46 baserunners … 14 pitchers … 504 pitches.

Game Two is tonight at 5:05 (Pacific), with Fresno’s Dan Straily (10-9, 4.77) facing Round Rock’s Roberto Coello (7-6, 4.18). You can follow along in a variety of ways presented on the PCL Scoreboard page.


  • Here’s the recap from the Austin newspaper. A series notebook mentions all of the prospects on the field.
  • The Fresno Bee has reaction from Grizzlies manager Tony DeFrancesco and hitter Tyler White.
  • Felix Hernandez and the Mariners took a 4-3 loss to the Angels last night, and now Felix has to win his final three starts if he is going to reach 20 wins for the first time in his career.
  • Bob Dutton’s Mariners Notebook includes an update on the starting rotation and a look at the M’s instructional league which starts today.
  • John Sickels took a look at Ketel Marte.
  • I feel sorry for the Cleveland Indians fireworks guy who accidentally shot them off after a home run hit by the visiting Kansas City Royals. Whoops!


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